Sunday, April 20, 2008

B's progress for the weekend

This weekend has been a hectic one, for sure. Yesterday morning, DH and I arrived early at B's treatment center. B was there, all smiles and looking good. Just like his mom, he doesn't have a problem meeting people. I can tell that he's made a lot of "friends". He's really enjoying being named "Peer Captain". If there is one thing I can say about my son-- and those of you who know him-- he is not shy about tooting his own horn!

On a more serious note-- I learned a lot, today. The class was about PAWS "Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome".

This topic really hit me between the eyes as a HUGE reality check. B nudged me a few times, nodding his head that he has experienced this. Oversimplified, B can be hit at any time with the feeling of withdrawal. That means, even though his insurance company considers him to be "detoxed", his disease isn't finished trying to get the fix that it wants. That's very sobering (no pun intended).

What we also learned about addiction gave me a sense of peace-- the entire 90 minute class had a major theme for loved ones to understand... addiction is a disease. It is not caused by bad parenting. The disease can be triggered by a traumatic event-- such as an injury that required painkillers to be described. I had to really digest this news, but I get it now.

I need to accept that it is not my fault, his father's fault, nor anybody else's fault that my son is an addict. It's genetic. If I shake my family tree hard enough, a few nuts would hit the ground. But, there is a history if alcoholism in my family. I have a first cousin who died just a few years ago, from alcoholism and crack cocaine addiction. His father (my maternal uncle) was an alcoholic. Neither of my parents were.

I finally understand that addicts don't have the switch that we do-- whether it's alcohol, substance abuse, sex, or food... addicts can't can't find the off switch. They are powerless over their addiction and they must learn to accept that. I finally understand that will power is not going to help an addict. They don't have willpower. Their brain can't do it.

Now that I understand this, I am feeling deep sorrow that my son is an addict. I realize, now, that he did not become an addict because he toyed with smoking marijuana, at the age of 12. My son is an addict, because once he found the high that gave him the sense of escape and "well-being" that his brain wanted (for him it was Oxycontin), he doesn't have a switch to turn it off. His brain likes oxycontin.

I also understand, now, that no matter how much I threaten my son, use "tough love", enable him, try to shelter him from drugs-- it doesn't cure his addiction. It just can't.

Ultimately, my son is the only person who can help himself. B realizes that he will be an addict for the rest of his life. He cannot be cured.

I can see why the 12-Steps is the ONLY way for an addict to cope with PAWS. It's going to happen-- tomorrow, in a week, in five years. Without having a sponsor, and people who he can trust and turn to, when his addiction tries to make him use-- he is a sitting duck. Above all, I believe that if an addict has a faith in God-- then the addict has a stronger chance of getting help to get through an inevitable episode of PAWS. The reality is, addicts must learn to cope with the temptations that cannot be hidden-- alcohol and drugs are too easy to get.

B has a long way to go-- my feelings are always changing. At one moment, I am so thankful for the program he is in. I'm so thankful for the people who have taken my son into their home. B seems highly appreciative for the help he's received from the treatment center, us, and his "foster home".

At times, I feel we are climbing Mt. Everest with flip-flops and a 500 pound backpack named "addiction".

Sometimes, my heart just grieves for the little boy who was so full of joy and innocence.

I have so much to learn about addiction. I have only scratched the surface. I'm so thankful that I have found two Christian based support groups that I plan to attend, faithfully. Even going to church, this morning, felt much different. With my eyes closed, I listened to the worship songs that were being sung. I found strength, peace and hope, because God promises me that he will never leave nor forsake me.

Deuteronomy 31:6 (New King James Version)

6 Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

On the way home, from church, I prayed for my marriage. My husband has been so supportive of me, and his stepson. It's important for us to make time for conversations other than just talking about B. We need to take care of ourselves, and to find time to enjoy and love each other. Otherwise, I'm going to grieve for B to the point that I will become addicted to the addict. I can't let B's addiction paralyze my life. I want to continue to enjoy my life, which I am.

I'm feeling very blessed right now, because I feel loved... by God, my husband, my son and my wonderful friends.

Philippians 4:12-13 (New International Version)

12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.



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